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To Northwest Philadelphia Elected Leaders


Link to all three stories

Please read the two attached articles regarding Democratic Party politics carefully.  Both of these surfaced in the last few days.  One an Inquirer editorial, the other a National Review investigative article.


For the last six years our newspaper and website have focused on political corruption in the Northwest, the City and to a lesser extent, the State of Pennsylvania.  In a city with an 88% Democratic voter registration and only one Republican serving in office within the city (state Rep Taylor) this means a corrupt Democratic Party operation.   To some our message was repetitive, beginning with our multi-installment history of Germantown Settlement, the false front social service organization that in reality was a real estate monopoly that consumed hundreds of millions in federal, state and city money; much of which was unaccounted for.  We took local leaders to task for other examples of the misuse of public money, non-performing CDCs and nonprofits.  We were the first to break the story of how Dwight Evans’ OARC funding of a twice bankrupt Mt. Airy nightclub lost $700,000 in state funds paying the debts of his close friends and never reopening.   We broke another local story where a Germantown CDC, funded generously with state and city money, failed to meet even minimum standards in a job training program and the city had to quietly pull the funding and shut it down.  Many other questionable situations were outlined on our pages, and not once has anyone been able to prove the reporting was incorrect in any meaningful way.


While we have referred to major investigations into these matters that stalled with some questionable manipulated tactics from the highest levels, in point of fact the recent disclosure that high level officials and area nonprofit leadership laundered money to pay bills for Congressman Chaka Fattah by moving it illegally through a social service nonprofit only validates the kind of thing we believe has been standard fare in this city, and particularly in the Northwest, for 20 years or more.  Insider campaign contributors and developers have been on the receiving end of this public money for a long period of time, and most citizen voters know it.  The problem is that fear rules under this one party system and few will even talk about it; but we plan to continue to do so with even more intensity.   The so-called opposition party that should be challenging the one in power as standard practice has failed to do so, and itself benefits from a few sweetheart deals.  The mainstream press that often has to act like the opposition party for the benefit of the citizens, has itself been badly weakened by multiple bankruptcies and investment/ownership by controlling political stakeholders as well in recent years.


We read the occasional blog posting by individuals and small groups who claim they are good government focused and want transparency and accountability.   No one can tell me that this past mayoral election was anything even close to that when a most unlikely and unexplained alliance of Northwest senior elected leadership joined with a candidate whose history was with convicted State Senator Fumo, aligned with union leadership that is known for racist and protectionist practices, and adding to the unholy alliance that carried the day, the teacher’s union and its huge Northwest support group also joins with the Dougherty Labor Machine and we learn after the fact that all of it was significantly financed by the disreputable George Norcross from across the river.  How much more of this can you align yourselves with realizing that the low turnout primary has been a design item by the machine and we could very likely get a mayor who was elected by less than 15% of the possible voters?


I am well aware that most of you have taken the position that The Independent Voice newspaper just makes stuff up, and the sooner it is closed down the better.  Major efforts to do just that have been taking place since the first year we printed (2009) and they can be traced to elected leadership.   


Maybe it’s time for those at the grass roots level who live off the machine to realize how corrupt and manipulative it is.  You are either part of the problem or part of the solution.  The two articles attached outline the problems and the proof of how correct they are is low hanging fruit.  


Jim Foster, Editor

The Independent Voice. 215-438-5171

Have Voters Had Enough?

Reprinted by permission from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

With a fourth politician pleading guilty to corruption charges in the infamous sting investigation, it's clear that Philadelphia's dominant political party has let it down. Independent political movements are the most likely remedy.

City Democrats have had many chances to clean up their mess since March 2014, when The Inquirer revealed Attorney General Kathleen Kane's mishandling of the sting investigation. Only District Attorney Seth Williams took action by taking on the case. It's dispiriting that most of the defendants - all Philadelphia Democrats - are getting off lightly, serving no time and probably keeping their pensions. But Kane's undermining of the case made Williams' job harder.

Still, there was enough evidence to secure the latest guilty plea from former State Rep. Michelle Brownlee, who took $2,000 in cash wrapped in a napkin from an informant. Two other ex-legislators and a former traffic judge have pleaded guilty, while two more lawmakers await adjudication.

In other recent cases against Philadelphia Democrats, a state senator, two powerful political aides, and six other judges have admitted or been convicted of violating the public trust.

Swimming against this tide may seem hopeless, but Philadelphians have beaten the odds before. Few of the city's politicians of merit sprang from the halls of hackery. At least early in their careers, they had independent streaks and bucked the machine.

There are new tools for grassroots movements today, including Crowdpac, which is bringing Kickstarter-style crowdfunding to political campaigns; it's currently targeting U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah by helping voters donate to potential opponents. A similar approach could make the difference in a state representative primary for which only about 5,000 voters show up. The disgraced legislators represented a wide variety of neighborhoods with strong community leaders and potential candidates.

Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney, who comes from the fossilized Democratic machine but seems to have evolved beyond it, should play a major role. The next mayor will need a lot of help from Harrisburg, and that won't happen if the city's delegation, with a few exceptions, remains a laughingstock.

Above all, voters must not dismiss corruption as politics as usual, or that is what it will continue to be.


How a Union Boss Bought Philadelphia’s Mayoral Election

Reprinted by permission from The National Review.

by Brooke Rogers June 15, 2015

Urban Democratic politics have for the past several decades often been a tug of war between black politicians and organized-labor interests. This spring’s Democratic mayoral primary in heavily black Philadelphia saw a decisive victory for one side, with James Kenney, a white union-allied candidate, taking 55.8 percent of the vote over five other contenders.

What pushed Kenney to his easy win? In part, thank the clout of big-time Philadelphia labor boss and small-time politician John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, who along with his union allies seem to have played a big role in Kenney’s victory. It wouldn’t be the only feather in Johnny Doc’s cap this year, either: His political organization also spent heavily to secure a victory for his own brother in May’s state supreme-court primary.

It’s the Philadelphia race that’s raised the most eyebrows. “I don’t consider what took place as an election,” Jim Foster, editor of Philadelphia’s Independent Voice tells National Review. “There’s a system in place guaranteeing only the endorsed and chosen will win.”

Kenney’s margin of victory in the mayoral primary, which essentially guarantees a general-election win, would have been difficult, if not impossible, to achieve without the support of Johnny Doc, whose power extends well beyond his own International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. In particular, unions linked to Johnny Doc, plus his own organizations, provided big financial backing for key black politicians who endorsed Kenney — a crucial boost for a white candidate.

In February, 2015, Dougherty told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a group of union labor representatives had been meeting monthly for almost three years at the headquarters of IBEW Local 98 headquarters, the union he runs personally. They discussed union-related issues, he said, but their ultimate goal was to ally to back a candidate in 2015. “It’s a think tank that turns into a ‘do tank,’” Dougherty said. “It’s not a matter of if we’re going to be all together, it’s a matter of who we’re going to be all together behind.”

According to the Inquirer as well as an article in Newsworks, the meeting was attended by representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Service Employees International Union; the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; the city’s Building & Construction Trades’ Council; the firefighters’ union; United Food and Commercial Workers; “and others.” The Kenney’ campaign’s financial disclosures show that between 2013 and early 2015 he got approximately $507,700 from labor unions, union associations, and related PACs whose representatives and affiliates attended the monthly meetings with Dougherty.

IBEW Local 98 itself gave $11,500, the maximum allowed for direct campaign donations from a union, to Kenney’s campaign in 2014. And in March of 2015, Local 98 gave $200,000 to “Building a Better Pennsylvania,” a political action committee that ran independent campaign ads for Kenney. The two groups are closely connected: Chris Rupe, Local 98’s director of legislative affairs, is listed as the treasurer for Building a Better Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“John Dougherty is taking it to the next level,” says Kevin Gillen, a senior research fellow for the Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation.

Many unions in Philadelphia don’t provide many votes directly, since a lot of union workers are hired from outside the Philadelphia area, Gillen explains. Unions, in fact, “are not the most critical factor,” he says. But they do offer candidates manpower and financial support — big time.

Private-sector unions don’t have quite the stake in elections that public-sector organizations do, but politics are still important. Elected officials approve construction projects in the city, Gillen says, which can mean more work for union members. It also gives them connections to help directly influence regulations and other legislation that affects their work. Further, Johnny Doc’s coordination of the Local 98 meetings, including private- and public-sector unions, suggest he’s trying to exert political power over the whole labor landscape.

Philadelphia is a “union town,” Gillen says. And union clout seems to help explain how Kenney, a white candidate in a city that’s more than 40 percent black, managed such a big win. He scored crucial endorsements from minority leaders who, it just so happens, are allies of Johnny Doc and unions crucial to his campaign. Three black leaders who backed Kenney — Philadelphia councilwoman Marian Tasco; the city-council president, Darrell Clarke; and state representative Dwight Evans — together represent approximately 1.5 million Philadelphians, according to 2011 census data.

Campaign-finance disclosure reports show that from 2007 to 2015, labor unions, union PACs, and union district councils whose representatives and affiliates were allied with Dougherty and Local 98 contributed approximately $129,950 to the “Friends of Darrell Clarke” campaign fund, including donations from five separate labor unions on April 21, 2015, totaling $5,000, and a donation of $11,500 from Local 98 on May 6, 2015, a week before Clarke’s endorsement of Kenney.

Friends of Marian Tasco received approximately $95,085 between 2006 and 2014 from these Local 98–allied union groups and their affiliates. Similarly, Dwight Evans’s campaigns received approximately $453,500 between 2006 and 2011, according to the reports.

Kenney’s supporters say it wasn’t about the money. “I chose to endorse Kenney because I looked at all of the candidates and he was the most experienced as it pertained to city government,” Tasco tells National Review. “His work on City Council and the fact that he voted on 27 city budgets was a major factor. He has been and I think will continue to be highly engaged and involved in community activities.”

Yet many argue that Philadelphia’s labor unions have been indifferent, or worse, when it comes to black interests. Unions have repeatedly ignored the underrepresentation of black workers in business trade unions despite 40 years of court orders demanding more diverse hiring practices, and they have a long history of alleged racist behavior, to boot.

Kenney’s top Democratic opponent, state senator Anthony Williams, has long pushed for more black representation in Philadelphia’s unions, serving on a 2009 advisory commission to increase their diversity. Other top politicians have pressed the issue, too: In 2007, when the building-trades unions were 99 percent male and 74 percent white, then–mayor Michael Nutter and the city council passed resolutions requiring that 50 percent of the workers on a local $760 million project be non-whites and women, calling the lack of diversity in Philadelphia labor unions “economic apartheid.”

Philadelphia’s unions have long been accused of racism and racial discrimination, remaining whiter than the industries they represent as a whole, Greer says. “It’s been recognized for a long time, for decades and decades, that union leaders who wield monopoly power do not necessarily act in the interest of minorities,” he says.

Sometimes they’ve practiced more explicit discrimination: For example, in 1972, white members of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 542 physically attacked two black members in the union hiring-hall office, while others stood by. The attack was retaliation for filing a lawsuit against the union over a number of discriminatory practices, according to testimony from one of the victims. A Philadelphia court ordered that Local 542 increase minority representation and ensure equal work and pay across racial groups. In 1985, the court determined Local 542 had not met these standards, and it ordered further oversight of their hiring practices.

Whether or not various efforts to cajole unions into having stronger minority representation make for wise policy, they’re presumably popular with the city’s black voters, and the interests that helped lift Kenney to victory adamantly oppose them. Kenney’s all-important primary victory (he should cruise to victory in the general) certainly looks to be another victory, in a heavily black city, for a narrow slice of union political interests epitomized by wealthy, powerful figures such as Johnny Doc. James Kenney might be Philly’s next mayor, but Johnny Doc is still its boss.

— Brooke Rogers is an intern at National Review.

June 23, 2014

Men Who Care of Germantown

Men Who Care of Germantown, Inc. is a non-profit community based organization established to serve and enrich the community in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Our Mission is simple. We strive to enhance the quality of life in our community through restoring and empowering youth to become responsible citizens and stewards of Germantown.

Men Who Care of Germantown believes that education is the bedrock of future success. With our communities struggling to provide more services with diminished resources, we have made it our main initiative to provide educational funding for deserving high school students of Germantown. To this end, Men Who Care has created a scholarship program funded by community-based events. Our first fund raising event, a family bowling party held on November 23, 2013, was a huge success. Men Who Care was proud to report that a senior from Martin Luther King High School benefited from the proceeds. Our second fundraising event, a Luncheon held at Treasure’s Banquet and Conference Center was also very successful. Men Who Care, in collaboration with the Writers Matter program and La Salle University, was again proud to award two deserving seniors from Germantown High School, Pametra Geer and Braheem Passe, college scholarships from event proceeds. Our scholarship program would not be successful without the generous contributions from our sponsors and donations from loyal supporters. This year, our goal is to raise enough funds to award four scholarships to deserving college-bound students attending Martin Luther King High School.

Men Who Care is delighted to announce its third annual College Scholarship fund raising event on Saturday June 27, 2015. Men Who Care will host a Luncheon at Treasure’s Banquet and Conference Center from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Treasure’s is located at 5549 Germantown Ave. The cost of the adult venue is $ 30.00 per person. Entertainment will be provided by Divergent Music Group, Kama-Sahlor Productions, Clef Club Student Youth Jazz Ensemble and poetry by students of the Writers Matter Program at Roosevelt School. Special Guests will include: Senator Shirley Kitchen, Senator Art Haywood, Professor Robert Vogel of La Salle University, Jeremy Newberg, Judge Carolyn H. Nichols and Dewight Lewis.

Sponsorship contributions are a key component to the Scholarship Program’s success. We are seeking individuals and companies to become viable partners to join our mission by sponsoring a table at the event with a tax deductible donation of $400. Our community needs your support and we thank you in advance for your generous contribution. For information about the Men Who Care Scholarship Program and to learn how you can help to develop youth, build strong families and serve the community, please contact me at (215) 888-8435.

Clayton M Justice
Vice President
Men Who Care of Germantown, Inc.
EIN 501 (c) (3) 45-3340210

June 15, 2015


sat down with Dan Muroff recently elected Ward Leader of the city’s 9th ward for a post primary election conversation, some insight into the alliances that evolved, and a recap of how he sees the priorities facing the city, the perspective of the voters and their participation, or lack of, in the last election.

We agreed that the turnout in that election was a poor reflection on the democratic process and that for all practical purposes the general election is going to be meaningless in the outcome of the mayor’s race, as only a Democrat can win. We also agreed that for all practical purposes somewhere between 10 and 12% of the potential voters decided who the next mayor will be.


Union work on taxpayers' dime

James Sherk is a research fellow specializing in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis.
Read more on the GNI Facebook page.

June 6, 2015

The “Landslide” Election

Press reports actually used that term to characterize the primary election on May 19th that saw an unexpected turn of events and alliances make Jim Kenney the Democratic candidate for mayor of Philadelphia.   Only in Philadelphia does someone who is elected by 10% of the potential voters and will likely not have to face any serious opponent from an opposition party a “landslide” victor.

Read more ...

Don't Put Philly Prison on the Riverfront

By Matt Wolfe

Let’s say you owned some prime riverfront property. What would you do with it?

Perhaps you could attract some port-related businesses. Such enterprises have no choice but to be on the river, obviously, so they might pay a premium. They normally create family-sustaining jobs.

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Can Philadelphia’s ‘Johnny Doc’ Put His Brother on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court?

by Jillian Kay Melchior May

Judicial elections the Philly way.

As Ken Rocks ran for the executive board of Philadelphia’s International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 last fall, one of its powerful bosses, John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, mailed a letter to the thousands of electricians in the union attacking the candidate.

No love was lost between the two; Rocks ran his campaign for the union’s executive board largely on claims that Johnny Doc’s ethics and management had been lacking. In turn, in his letter, Johnny Doc listed various legal charges filed against Rocks, also claiming he was “behind $1000’s” on his child support and had stopped sending money. Bumper stickers, reportedly also issued by Johnny Doc, made a similar claim: “ROCKS DID NOT PAY FOR HIS KIDS.”

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May 25, 2015

Philadelphia’s Phony Primary

Race to the finish keeps facts covered

Another inspiring 27% turnout in a manipulated primary election that guarantees who will be mayor without once taking on the issues that will impact the future of the 5th largest city in the United States (down from third thanks to 25 years of political scamming).

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May 12, 2015


Last night a New York bound Amtrak passenger train derailed in Northeast Philadelphia with all cars leaving the tracks with most on their sides or upside down and some literally shredded.

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May 9, 2015

The Legacy of Philadelphia Under Mayor Nutter: Silos of Self Protection (Or, Fooling Most of the people Most of the Time)

To read the summaries of the two terms in the mainstream Philadelphia press, and some of the blogs claiming insight into the “new Philadelphia”, one would be led to believe that outgoing Mayor Michael Nutter walked on water.  Using phrases like “integrity and ethics reform” over and over does not make it so. 

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The Independent Voice Endorsements Reflect the Need for a Fresh Vision Within a City Near Collapse

This newspaper has been focusing on Philadelphia city government issues with an investigative perspective and direct challenges to the standing government machine since our first issue in April, 2009.  With that perspective still our primary goal, we endorse independent Democrat Doug Oliver for Mayor and long serving and committed community activist Carol Jenkins for City Commissioner in the May 19 primary election.

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May 3, 2015

Institutional Racism: Revisiting the Issue

Racism Brings Federal Troops During World War II

August 1, 1944, was certainly among the darkest days in the history of the city that claims it is “The City of Brotherly Love”. For that day, less than two months after D-Day in World War II, the white union members of this city public transportation system went on a wildcat strike that at 4:00 p.m that shut down the entire transit system during the afternoon rush hour at a time when national gas rationing put almost everyone on public transit. The reason – the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) had trained 8 black employees to run streetcars in Germantown.

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April 24, 2015


Partners in shutdown of two major investigations by federal and city authorities into misuse of hundreds of millions in public and private funding

Read the expose in The Independent Voice that tells how the largest political fraud in recent Philadelphia history, using mostly federal  dollars, was uncovered by the FBI and City IG only to be squashed through senior level HUD influence and the assistance of the just elected mayor of Philadelphia.

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April 23, 2015

Councilwoman Cindy Bass Takes Ethics Stand with Developers


April 23, 2015 - Just minutes ago 8th District Councilwoman Cindy Bass took a strident stand relative to what has long had the appearance of conflicts of interest in who steers the Boards of Directors of agencies that control the distribution of city owner properties.  The City of Philadelphia, through multiple agencies takes ownership of and redistributes/markets various parcels of land, both developed and undeveloped.  Philadelphia owns more property than any other city in the United States and much of it has been on their books generating no tax revenue for extended periods.  For many years the boards of these entities have been staffed by individuals appointed by the Mayor and others; who themselves and their companies may be conduits for the redistribution of this city property.  This bill, with stiff penalties, makes those appointments illegal and not in the public interest.

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April 6, 2015

None of the Above

That would be my response to the question of which Democratic Mayoral candidate I would want to take control of this city after Michael Nutter’s term ends.

If you read and listen to most of the superficial propaganda about the Nutter years, you might actually believe we were being guided by a champion of ethics reform and good judgment. In fact, he was a caretaker for complacency at best and in some areas, like Licenses and Inspections. He intentionally downgrades he with duplicitous behavior that led to tragedies and deaths. Those practices cost us multi-millions in back door settlements. We have yet to learn the costs from the seven deaths in the Salvation Army collapse.

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From Reform To Ruin: The History of Philadelphia's Democratic Party

The Early Reform Years 1937-1951

While even most old timers will tell you the efforts to influence change and reform into what had been described as the most corrupt city government in the nation began after World War II, it actually started before the war on the coattails of Roosevelt’s 1936 second election when a Democratic Governor by the name of Earle took office.  Earle served from 1936 to 1939 when Republicans took back the seat.

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April 6, 2015

A Blast from the Past

A little more than a year ago The Independent Voice expressed concerns over the direction Mayor Nutter was headed. Nothing has changed for the better.

Jim Foster's observations and the Mayor's office's response follows.

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March 27, 2015

Michael "the Mortician" Nutter Buries Major Investigation in First So-called "Ethics" Appointments

It was only days after his November 6, 2007, election when Mayor elect Nutter announced the first of his claimed reform government measures with two appointments.  He creates his first of many “czars” with the new Chief Integrity Office and the appointment of Joan Markman, but also replaces the serving Inspector General right away with Amy Kurland.

The then serving Inspector General was our current District Attorney Seth Williams, and while he would have had to eventually resign to run for that office later, there was no urgency for him to be replaced at that early moment.  In point of fact, Seth Williams had breathed new life into a city agency that had itself been plagued with patronage and nonperformance.

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Attention Philadelphians:

Please scroll down and read this NY Times pension report written by Philadelphia resident Mary Williams Walsh.

This critical situation is almost as catastrophic in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. I have been consistently berating both Democrats and Republicans for burying the truth about the condition here. Those who are required by State Law to oversee all the finances of this city have been the most irresponsible in actually burying the facts about the pensions and how the city budget must prioritize and publicize the entire fiscal situation at meetings of the PICA Board. Not only have the pensions not been included, to any significant degree, in the PICA discussions that led to the acceptance of the city budget and five year plan for the last three years, members from Chairman Sam Katz on down went out of their way to make sure the pension statistics and details were kept from the public through the last two elections. In my opinion, the dereliction of duty of this board to live up to what the state statute requires of them demands a proper investigation by city and state agencies immediately.

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Legal Notice

The Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School is requesting proposals for school food service management services. The Food Service Management Company will provide management services according to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations and guidelines, as well as the Pennsylvania Department of Education policies and guidelines.

Food Service Management Companies may submit proposals to:

Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School

In C/O FSMC Contact

5501 Cedar Avenue

Philadelphia, PA 19143

The Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School Board of Education reserves the right to accept or reject any and/or all proposals or to accept the proposal that it finds, in its sole discretion, to be in the best interest of the school district.

A walk-through meeting is scheduled for July 15, 2015 at 10:00 am at 5501 Cedar Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143. 

All proposals must be submitted no later than 12:00 pm on July 29, 2015.  All proposals should be delivered in a sealed envelope and addressed to the Boys’ Latin of Philadelphia Charter School and be clearly marked:  Food Service Management Bid.

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Next Issue: June 25, 2015

Institutional Racism

In Philadelphia, racial minorities have lost ground

It would be disingenuous of me to state that I was not aware early on that ethnic and racial discrimination was part of everyday life in this country, and in my home territory of Germantown and Mt. Airy.  Old enough to remember the community before the first black children were in my grammar school classes, it was the Italians and Jews that were the back-channel targets in a mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood and one not too far from the entrenched white Anglo Saxon ruling class. When the first black families moved nearby enough to attend the schools, the parents whispered new language into their children’s ears.

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